Publisher’s Weekly, in early review of my new book, The Elements of Cooking, criticized it for being Francocentric—it should have been called The Elements of French Cooking, the unsigned reviewer wrote, and dismissed its lack of a broader world view (read the review on the amazon page here).  I first read this review upon returning from Chicago where I’d attended a weekend celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Charlie Trotter’s eponymous restaurant.  Trotter had invited a stellar group of internationally renowned chefs who flew in from across the globe—Pierre Hermé (Paris), Thomas Keller (California), Ferran Adria (Spain), Daniel Boulud (New York), Tetsuya Wakuda (Australia) and England’s Heston Blumenthal (photo courtesy of Charlie Trotter’s, and that’s the excellent David Myers, left, of Sona and Comme Ça in L.A., a veteran of Trotters who was invited in to prepare the canapés at a reception preceding the dinner). At a dinner a couple nights earlier hosted by Trotter, Adria told me that this was a historic occasion, to have this group of chefs together.

Few would deny that on a list of the top ten chefs of the world, these seven chefs have a rightful a place.  What was historic, though, Adria said, was that only one of them worked in France (Hermé, perhaps the world’s most reknowned patissier).

“Twenty years ago,” I asked, “most of them would be French?”

Adria said, “All of them.  Ten years ago.”

This gathering of chefs did indeed represent a fairly global portrait of the chef.  Not insignificantly, they’d all arrived to celebrate a chef who had taken the French approach to fine dining and translated it into a distinctly American-global idiom.  And perhaps it was no surprise that Arthur Lubow had also flown in for the celebrations, the journalist who four years ago, in an 8,000 word cover story on Adria in The New York Times Sunday Magazine pronounced the death of French Cuisine (the final words of the article are from a Spanish chef: “It’s a great shame what has happened in France, because we love the French people and we learned there. Twenty years ago, everybody went to France. Today they go there to learn what not to do.”).

It’s understandable for non-French folks to rejoice at the end of French supremacy in all things cuisine, which has had a pretty good run of, what, half a millennium?  The article and the death were embraced with glee, a big raspberry to those old fashioned, jingoistic French farts.  The PW reviewer of my book was surely amongst them, implying that something with a French bias was somehow wrong.

I don’t want to make guesses at the reason for this anti-French bias, nor do I mean to imply that an anti-French bias is wrong.  Eric Ripert, the Frenchman who co-owns and runs the Michelin three-star, New York Times four-star, restaurant Le Bernardin, told me on numerous occasions how the hidebound nature of the French chef and the culinary mandates of French haute cuisine shut down the imagination and innovation of young chefs.  Indeed, it’s unlikely that someone like Adria or Blumenthal or, in the United States, Wylie Dufresne (he did the canapés at a party for the chefs at Trotter’s house) or Grant Achatz, two of this countries most notable practitioners of the avant garde, could come out of such a culture.  These chefs are a large part of why the world dining scene has never been more exciting.Hestonthomas

But we cannot say that we’re beyond the French, or that the French influence is past and we’re on to newer and better times in the kitchen, that the king is dead and the wall has been torn down.  The child, non-French innovators, has not slain the father.  The fact is, for whatever historical and sociological reasons, French cuisine became the bedrock of all western cuisine, and more important, it gave us a common language.  The language of the kitchen is French-based.  Just as, say, English is the language used for communication between international pilots and air traffic controllers.

It was in French kitchens that the fundamentals of cooking were first named and codified.  It may be American, but it is called our cuisine.  The American chefs who compose our brigades still cut mirepoix as part of their daily mise en place, and the avant garde and cutting edge chefs cook sous vide.  And perhaps one of the most celebrated American restaurants ever, The French Laundry, explicitly looks to France for both its inspirations and innovation as well as to the culinary fundamentals that did not begin in France but that were given meaningful terminology there. (I  love the above shot of the Francophilic Keller regarding avant gardist Blumenthal’s seascape while listening to the sea sounds on the ipod.  Chicago Tribune photo by E. Jason Wambsgans; copyright Chicago Tribune.)

In a restaurant culture perpetually seeking the next new thing, we need always remember where we came from and what our common language is.  Because if we don’t have a common language, then we have no way of communicating, and we are isolated with our innovations and discoveries, we have no voice.

I wrote my version of Strunk and White for the kitchen in order to name and describe all the terms a cook needs to know in the kitchen, whether that cook is in a home or working grill station on a Saturday night.  And yes, it could very well be called The Elements of French Cooking, I suppose—but I would argue with that anonymous reviewer.  This is its strength not a weakness.  That is why The French Laundry after 13 years remains an innovator in gastronomy.  Because Keller, and now Corey Lee and his brigade acknowledge daily a culinary heritage all cooks in the Western world share. Bon Appetit.


302 Wonderful responses to “Unapologetic Francophilia”

  • Skawt


    You are a classic internet troll. You are insulting, condescending and rude. You make assertions about people without knowing anything about them. When you get called on your behavior, you try to make it look like you are the victim.

    You pretty much lost any sympathy anyone might have had for you when you joined this thread with an insult to Michael Ruhlman. You continued to insult anyone that tried to debate you.

    And now, you’re playing this silly “I’m rubber, you’re glue” nonsense, pretending to take the high road.

    Seriously. Take your act back to the embaumsworld or somethingawful or 4chan forums where you belong. Everyone else has have enough of your bullshit.

  • Bob delGrosso

    The ducks at Hudson Valley Farms are treated really well. I know because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I cannot speak to the conditions at any other farm that produces foie gras, but I can speak for HVF.

    Of course, if you are already converted to vegetarian or veganism you won’t want to believe me -and I don’t know why you would. But I feel that I have an ethical responsibility to stand up for the people at HVF who work so hard to make sure that their animals are comfortable and healthy.

    I work on a dairy farm that is certified humane by an organization (Certified Humane that is affiliated with the same people who put the screws on Wolfgang Puck to stop selling foie gras (The Humane Society of the United States or HSUS). I know how we treat our cows, and I don’t see that the people at Hudson Valley are treating their animals any worse than we are.
    If they use the same standard to judge us that their friends at HSUS judge Hudson Valley, they should have never given us approval. I think.

    But then I suppose if you are a convicted vegan you’d probably think that we are abusing our cows by keeping them and taking their milk.

    Finally, I’ve held my tongue on this Charlie Trotter business up until now because I respect him and his work and a lot of the discourse around the subject here has been so nasty. But honestly, I do not understand how Trotter could draw a line in the sand between him and all foie gras and still serve other meat.

    It’s weird,it makes no sense, and I’d really love it if somebody could explain the logic of it to me.

  • Vincent

    FB – maybe too much wine was involved in the post you referred to. If I offended you I apologize.

    I do stick by the fact though, pink spock panties or not, that “anyone who fools with a man from Brooklyn who works with knives all day would be a dipshit” stands.

  • Ms.Anthrope

    OK…real quick because Mythbusters is coming on…
    I scored an egg from one of my hens this morning. Tonight, following Mike’s method, I cooked using the baking soda solution. Unfortunately, it STILL came out looking a bit like mice had chewed on it. Now…granted this was a less than 12 hour old egg (still warm when I got it this morning) but I really hoped we were on to something here.

    To Bob DG-Thank you for the guidance. Definitely, I am guilty of most of the things you listed as possibilities with the exception of overcooking. The fact that they are cooked at all is simply a nod to my roommate who is sure he will find me twitching on the floor from eating nearly raw eggs or some other “nasty thing” that I have foraged from my hikes.
    I am also perfectly clear that most of my shortcomings as a cook are entirely of my own doing. I am impatient and easily derailed by shiny objects. Luckily, I have a dog who is more than happy to help hide my failures if it means she won’t have to eat kibble.
    Although most of the conversations on this blog are way out of my league, not a day goes by where I do not learn somehting and for that, I am grateful to you all!

  • luis

    Mike, thanks for clarifying that. The eggs cook great the way Ruhlman suggests. The shocking just didn’t make sense to me. By the way I cook rice that same way and it comes out perfectly as well. Believe me I can do over easy like any iron chef out there but when it comes to perfectly cooked and perfectly peeled hard boiled eggs… I am just dancing around this goal….hit and miss. I like Ruhlmans technique very much. It works but the shocking thing……is like you suggest: don’t do it, or it has to be done licketty split to avoid cold hard boiled eggs.

  • faustianbargain

    to bob delgrosso:

    re charlie his line on the sand..i suppose, its the same as it is with people who wont have veal, but will have those who wouldnt have meat, but will have fish.

    re foie gras ducks, i am not a vegan, but the way i see it, the life of a foie gras duck is not ‘natural’. foie gras is a byproduct of migration. it is not a by product of a well fed(or as some would say, forcefed) duck. my objection to the production process of foie gras is the same as it is with placing a tiger(r.i.p, tatiana) in a san francisco zoo or a polar bear behind a glass window in rhode island.

    all things poultry is seasonal. they have specific egg laying schedules. it depends on the amount of sunlight and the temperature etc. migratory behaviour is related to the bird’s internal biological clock. traditionally, foie gras came from geese..this was before the foie gras process became industrialised in france in the 60s when they discovered that the mulard duck was a lot more compliant than the geese that were notoriously difficult to raise and especially to mate.

    in geek speak, i’d say that breeding sterile mulard ducks to force feed and produce foie gras is essentially a form of farm ‘hack’. but the continued exploit of this admittedly brilliant hack for mass production in foie gras farm becomes part of the realm of malignant crackerdom, not creative hackerdom.

    recently, i came across ‘artisan farmers’ alliance website. and you have their link on your blog, i noticed too.

    they say: “Artisan farmers use traditional, small-scale, sustainable farming techniques to produce the finest food products possible and reconnect American consumers with our rich agricultural heritage.”

    really..who defines ‘small scale’..just because its ‘small’ compared to smithfield doesnt make it artisan. and there is NO foie gras in america’s ‘rich agricultural heritage’. and traditional is feeding geese with figs and acorns, not corn mush and fat to sterile male ducks!

    here, nicolas maduros, the ‘executive director’ of artisan farmers alliance says.. ..“>here.
    ..” a Washington-based group that represents America’s foie gras farmers and others involved in artisanal agricultural products.”(washington, eh? can you spell ‘lobby’?…how many artisan farmers do you know who can hire lobbyists and PR firms?…more power to those who can…but seriously ‘small scale and sustainable’ who has lobbies..please can one of them help out the almond growers in california…and the good men who grow vegetables and berries and apples..we have a problem or two here that will benefit from help from artisan farmers alliances)

    Here are some quotable quotes:

    “While the protesters have done a lot of shouting, what has been missing is a discussion of the facts. The truth is that foie gras farming is humane. That’s the only logical conclusion if you base your assessment on unbiased scientists and veterinarians, rather than vegetarian activists.”

    yes. i cannot disagree. what has been missing is a discussion of the facts.

    “Over the last two years, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has studied the science, inspected foie gras farms, and rejected claims that the ducks raised for foie gras are treated inhumanely. ”

    repeatedly, the the avma or the american vet medical association is beckoned for supporting foie gras production practies as ‘humane’. but the truth is that avma has DECLINED to take a position…just as they didnt take a position on gestation crates.

    somewhere along the line, i also found out that sonoma farms had trademarked ‘artisan’ as a brandname for their top tier foie gras after learning the method of production from a farm in france. so what exactly is this ‘artisan’ foie gras? what is the meaning of ‘artisan foie gras’? and who are these artisanfarmes alliance folks? how come they arent supporting any other ‘artisan farmer’ other than foie gras it just for sonoma? maybe its only for those ‘farmers’ who raise ‘artisan'(tm) foie gras? for people to feed ducks and geese from hand, their numbers/flock size must be manageably small, one would imagine.

    for the geese, the waddling in the waters and the meadows holds deep social significance..the ducks are less fussy and are not rabidly terriorial and defensive about their grazing land. and during periods of migration, they gorge themselves to sustain themselves during their flight. which automatically assumes that they can FLY with their engorged livers. how many geese or ducks in foie gras farms have you seen that can fly?

    to break the natural cycle and life of a living being is unacceptable to some of us. a cow can run pasture and chicken can feed scratchings and worms…and still be acceptable food for human beings. what is judged here is not the choice to consume animal products, but the fairness of it.

    it is not about whether or not you can consume foie gras or if sonoma fg or hudson valley must be allowed to produce foie is about why some of us are convinced that it is not humane the way it is produced(even if we are not all vegans) and we feel insulted when someone drones ad nauseum, ad infinitum that “foie gras is ‘human'”…that is not a definitive argument for the ‘humaneness’ of foie gras production. it is merely an opinion.

    and let us not go into the feed. corn mush. is that what ducks and geese eat to gorge themselves for migratory flights? are there corn mush blenders with supplements and fat in every goose and duck’s kitchen? seriously?…there is some dispute here…a female american chef who had witnessed the workings of a foie gras farm in france said that duck fat is the fat of choice to go with the corn mush..which is too close for my comfort to cannibalism.

    megnut blog carried that interview:

    eve felder wrote: “The experience I had in France is that they fed the ducks a warm mash of corn, water and duck fat that was administered through a funnel.”

    so, obviously…this is how they do foie gras in france. it isnt the holy grail. in france, they also beheaded the king and their queen because they couldnt get enough bread. some perspective is needed here before we all go totally apeshit francophile. and god knows, i love them..some of them, at least.

    consumption of most animal products can be defended..yes, even meat. fur, not so much anymore..but wool, eggs, milk, cheese, down etc can be byproducts of animals that have led a full, free and natural life before we use them for our needs. crated veal is unacceptable. kobe beef less so.

    so, yes…we are not completely free from our dependence on animals for our comfort. we will get there eventually, but for now, the only defense for the production of foie gras is taste…that some people like consuming something that is rich and butter..and yet others like that it is an expensive product. and taste is personal. there are many people who really arent crazy about the taste of foie gras. and many many more who would reject it when they learn how they are produced. and thats the logic of it for some of us.

    to imprison a bird from light, flight and open air for three plus weeks with the express purpose of fattening it is horrifying to some of us…it is millions of light years away from the image of contended chickens pulling worms from the garden earth or cows running downhill on a farm..and which will end up in your dinner table anyways.

    if you have been part of a hunt for game and have also witnessed the sacrifice of a bound animal at an altar, you’ll know the difference. of course, you’d know it best if you were hansel or gretel and fed by the old crone of the black forest. of course, she cared for them. and yes, of course, the farmers feed the birds ‘with care’ too. they are money makers. there is no other way to treat them. there is a thin line between ‘humane production’ and ‘being careful with stock-in-trade’

  • mike pardus

    OK, I said I was not going to add more fuel to this fire, but FB continiues to mis-state my words “nobody can get to choose who can express moral outrage or who mike pardus has unwisely opined earlier” – go back and read what I wrote. My first post here:

    ” If you are completly vegan and use no animal products because of an ethical stance, I can’t argue with you. You’re right and I’m right….my atheism does not invalidate your belief in god or vice versa.

    But if you consume meat and have not visited BOTH a Foster Farms poultry plant AND Hudson Valley Foie Gras and seen the difference with your own eyes, you should remove yourself from the discussion – you are not well informed enough to have a valid opinion about what constitutes humane animal husbandry and what does not”

    and now she has done the same to one of THE most kowledgable, honorable, compassionate, and moral people in the food biz…FB, when you tried twisting Eve Felder’s words for your own uses you really pissed me off. I would ask that everyone read the link with Eve’s comments so that they can see what was said and how her words were taken out of context while Fb still avoids answering the question – have you or have you not witnessed both factory poultry processing and small scale Foie prouction?

    I can not dictate to anyone what to do or how to think, but I will advocate the shunning of this person who so obviously disregards honor, integrity and civil, informed debate.

    I will no longer post to threads involving FB.
    Hope to have many other spirited conversations on other topics with the rest of you.

    Best – MP

  • Derrick Schneider

    FB, The Artisan label came about because SFG wanted to produce a higher-level foie and distribute it themselves, but “Sonoma Foie Gras” was already in use by/licensed to/owned by Grimaud Farms, which does the distribution of SFG. So they came up with Artisan Foie Gras — Artisan obviously not being a regulated term in this arena. I don’t remember all the differences. One is the feed used, I think, the other is whether the liver is cold-eviscerated (pulled from the animal after a night in the fridge) or warm-eviscerated (pulled from the animal immediately after slaughter). I can’t remember which is which, but I think Artisan is cold-eviscerated.

    The foie gras lobby is relatively new…3 years or so. It’s a reaction to the various attempts to ban it throughout the country. The foie gras farmers and other key players such as Ariane Daguin decided to work together.

  • faustianbargain

    what nonsense:

    you said:

    “” If you are completly vegan and use no animal products because of an ethical stance, I can’t argue with you. You’re right and I’m right….my atheism does not invalidate your belief in god or vice versa.

    But if you consume meat and have not visited BOTH a Foster Farms poultry plant AND Hudson Valley Foie Gras and seen the difference with your own eyes, you should remove yourself from the discussion – you are not well informed enough to have a valid opinion about what constitutes humane animal husbandry and what does not”

    what gives YOU the right to tell people to remove themselves from any argument if they havent experienced what you have…are you the overlord of all those who oversee who should AND shouldnt be outraged by what they perceive as inhumane?

    i hate bringing up the holocaust in any kind of argument, but what you are saying is not unlike throwing a tantrum about NOT blaming the nazis unless you were there in GERMANY and didnt see how they were “really compassionate” to the jews, homosexuals, communists and the handicapped.

    eve felder said that duck fat is included in the corn mush fed to the ducks she witnessed being fed in france. that is plain bad animal husbandry. yes..even if it is from france. you are the one who is twisting what i said…what i said isnt a criticism of eve felder, but one about the elevated ‘artisan’ french foie gras production. and before someone comes to tell me that its not how its done in the united states..yes, probably. but who cares…the same standard should apply and maybe united states foie gras farmers must stop telling everyone how they ‘learned’ it all from the french. isnt it ironic…the small scale..4-5 geese per household ‘tradition’ is not followed…hudson farms lost thousands in the breeding barn fire..and how is it “small scale” and “traditional” again? do the rest of us look like we are wearing dunce caps and willing vessels to import whatever information self proclaimed ‘authorities’ like yourself are willing to throw our way? sheesh!

    it is important to mention eve felder and the source of her quote just to make a point..that i am not coming up with all this from my hat. she said it. you read it. ask her. it is one more reason not to blindly follow some tradition because its french.

  • faustianbargain

    derrick, thanks. i am aware of that and also that it came to be in use somewhere in 2003..that would place the marketing of the product around 2004. the process itself isnt patented, altho’ i believe that it is a trademark.

    on a more general note….artisanfarmersalliance claims to represent artisan farmers..and who are these artisan farmers of america who practice ‘small scale, traditional’ methods of production…rich agricultural heritage of america? seriously…there is no such thing as ‘small scale’ or ‘traditional’ production of foie gras…geese raised in home farms in france used to be ‘small scale’ and ‘traditional’..until the 60s when someone figured that the ducks are greedier than the geese and easier to feed. and ariane daguin’s father would agree with me…at least on the last part of the sentence. by what definition is sonoma or hudson is ‘small scale’ or ‘traditional’, i dont know.

    if hudson and sonoma can be in business saying what they do…yes..they breed thousands of sterile ducks..forcefeed the male ducks only and produce them year around under legally acceptable laws of animal husbandry, its a free market. but to claim that they are ‘small scale’ or ‘traditional’ is just wrong. it is false advertising. a reflection of ourselves. a woman goes through several hours of labour to deliver her child, but she cant be a construction worker. there are men who will do the most gruesome of jobs and blanch at the sight of blood. pain and PERCEPTION of pain is relative and personal too.

    visiting a foie gras farm or a factory farm doesnt give a select few the right to deny others to perceive pain or humaneness or feel squeamishness. the stream of lies to make foie gras lessen the human emotion some people feel towards it as a product is a travesty. it is a crime against all humanity because it attempts to strip and rob others of their thinking and judging faculties connivingly and misconstruingly. if a product made for commercial purposes can survive on it’s own merits, then it deserves it. foie gras can be appealing to many because of its taste, presentation and the expense of procuring it. but it cannot be made appealing by trying to brainwash people by repeating ad nauseum that it is ‘humane’ and that is ‘natural’ and that it is ‘traditional’. no, its not. not to me. not to thousands others.

  • Skawt

    Ah, that was the only thing missing from this mess. Just needed to invoke Godwin’s Law by comparing something to Nazis and the Holocaust.

    Mike Pardus: please e-mail me at when you get a chance. Thanks!

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Okay – my turn.

    Faustian – your argument doesn’t work because it boils down essentially to this: “If it bothers me – its wrong, if I like it its right.” You have bascially made the executive decision for ALL of us that YOU are the final word on right & wrong – which is to place yourself in a VERY high position in respect to the rest of humanity…wouldn’t you say?

    What qualifies you and your emotional reactions to such an elevated position? What is it about your pain that makes it something the entire rest of the world needs to stop and readjust their lives for?

    Imagine if everyone in the world made decisions like that…imagine if 5 billion people put their own feelings above everyone else’s. There would be chaos. No two people would ever agree. There has to be a common way for people to determine what is right and what is wrong – and “how it makes me feel” is about the shakiest of territories to try and accomplish that.

    That being said – I challenge you to explain to me from a genuine scientific and medical point of view how it would be medically possible for a duck or a goose to feel the type of pain your are insisting it feels. What nerve receives the signals? What is the structure of a duck’s brain that would allow it to notice pain??

    Very few creatures – humans included, have much of an ability to sense pain internally. Most of the pain that is sensed is through the skin, when its broken. If we could all feel when we had developed cancer in the spleen or elsewhere, there wouldn’t be so many people discovering after its very advanced that they were sick.

    Explain from a medical perspective how it is possible for a duck or a goose to sense so much pain internally??

  • Jennie/Tikka

    P.S. You also need to stop putting yourself in the position of the animals. When you react you are reacting to the situation happening to you – and not the animal. Your sympathy is not for the animal – it is for yourself….which is the very definition of complete self-centeredness and has nothing to do with compassion. What it is is the complete inability to sense anyone’s existence but your own – ergo, what YOU feel, they MUST feel because there is no separateness from your own sense of self. Everything is about you.

    We used to have a joke in my neighborhood growing up. There was one lady who was the poster child for this type of thinking. We used to say of her, “SHE’S cold, but WE’RE the one who will have to wear a sweater” and that’s exactly what I’m suggesting is going on here.

  • faustianbargain

    jennie/tikka said:

    “Faustian – your argument doesn’t work because it boils down essentially to this: “If it bothers me – its wrong, if I like it its right.” You have bascially made the executive decision for ALL of us that YOU are the final word on right & wrong – which is to place yourself in a VERY high position in respect to the rest of humanity…wouldn’t you say?


    no. you can do what you want. i dont want to be told that either i have to be a vegan or visit a foie gras farm to call it inhumane.

    i dont want to hear a thousand times how foie gras is an ‘artisan’ product or how it is produced in small scale or how it is humane. leave us to our own devices when it comes to critical thinking that is compatible with our style of living.

    i also dont want to hear about the results of the dissection experiments on charlie trotter’s ‘hypocrisy’ re foie gras. traci des jardin too quietly stopped serving foie gras a few years ago and apparently, it is back on her menu now. we wont hear anyone or a certain someone calling her a hypocrite. which she isnt, obviously. she is a chef and a businesswoman. i totally respect her and think that she can do pretty much whatever she wants.

    but it is interesting how under the same exact circumstances.(after 2003, foie gras is considered politically incorrect or personally abhorrent. it is removed from the menus. it gets back on the menu with no fan fare..only in the case of trotter, he was falsely accused of making it by bourdain which soon became ‘a fact’ after which he was publicly tarred and feathered..while traci des jardins’ menu seem to include foie gras and it appears that she is still the chef patron of jardiniere which means that it happened in her kitchen…it gets curiouser and curiouser) different people are treated differently by a tight group of industry celebrities whose words are being lapped up by certain media outlets and their ‘fans’. unfortunately, those who aid certain public figures in these personal ego games dont realise that they are mere enablers in a bigger game from which they, essentially, gain nothing and come out looking as liars or worse, rather silly. it is hilarious for the rest of us who witness it from outside ‘the circle’.

    but then again, do ask me if i care about how silly the silly folks look.

    altho’ false advertising is illegal in this country, isnt it?

    the rest of what you said..that i snipped…is like the current arguments about torture/waterboarding etc. i am sure ‘medical’ evidence proves that waterboarding isnt torture. not many people care.

    now, please email claudia or skwat for further. instructions.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Faustian – what you seem to be saying is that the facts don’t matter. You refuse to look at it from a fact-only perspective.

    Sure, there’s a lot to be upset at in this world – that much we all agree on. But wouldn’t you agree that it is important to only worry about what is truly wrong (rather than fight a battle that doesn’t need to be fought)? If you are wrong…you hurt innocent people along the way. That should count for something in your process of determining right from wrong.

    You quoted chefs.
    I quoted medical professionals.

    Your issue is with chefs.

    The foie part is your attempt to divert attention away from the emotional sense of unfairness that chefs form an internal clique and view the rest of the non-chefs as outsiders.

    I’ll agree with you there – chefs are very much in their own professional world…but so is every other profession. The way to solve that is to become a chef. One thing chefs are big on is that you have to pay your dues if you want to have the title, Chef.

    Likewise, psychologists determine mental health on a contiuum. It starts with total health – which is to accurately perceive external reality. The opposite end of the spectrum is a complete psychotic break with reality, i.e schizophrenia. Schizophrenics have no ability to perceive reality accurately and their minds literally make things up as they go along – delusions, hallucinations, non-existent voices, etc.

    Does your argument stand the reality test? That’s all I’m asking. And if it doesn’t….what does that say? If investigating the facts is an issue for you….then you’re beginning to sound like the end of the spectrum that’s breaking from reality. Narcisissm is the first indicator that you’ve entered that territory.

    Lastly – it has to be said. Something is bothering you, but it isn’t the treatment of animals. Something is bothering you enough to knock you out of equilibrium and create a minor disturbance. Someone hurt you and you’re stuck at that point.

  • Claudia


    “please e-mail Claudia or Skawt for further instructions”.

    Huhhh? My e-mail to Vince has absolutely nothing to do with you, foie or anything on this particular board, which is why I asked Vincent to e-mail me privately. I also know Skawt’s e- to Pardus has nothing to do with you, foie or the discussion at hand – which is why neither of us are trying to tie up the board with something off-topic.

  • faustianbargain

    not all medical professionals. some of them have made themselves irrelevant. especially since the avma(american vet. medical assoc.) doesnt think that gestation crates ought to be banned.

    “[M]ost of the association’s policies promote animal industries at the expense of … animal welfare, including promoting practices that cause great harm, pain and unplanned death.” – Peggy Larson, D.V.M.(thats a medical professional for you)

    “It is important for each of us to recognize that we may at times become too close to the industries we serve, losing our objectivity about what is the best welfare and adopting instead that suggested by the industry.” – current AVMA President Dr. Bonnie Beaver.

    other positions ‘medical professionals’ have endorsed or havent condemned:

    1. face branding of animals before usda dropped the requirement in 1995. avma was silent about it.

    2. steel-jaw traps..the same kind used in the fur industry…it is banned in many countries and some states in the usa.

    avma on steel jaw traps(after a trapper was added to the avma’s animal welfare committee)

    “The AVMA recognizes that trapping is a useful and necessary method for managing … populations.”

    3. finally, gestation crates for pigs. smithfield has promised to do away with gestation crates, people..but guess what avma has to say about it. nothing. they even proposed to endorse gestation crates..
    [..]The veterinarian who proposed the endorsement for gestation crates, Dr. David Madsen, is the AVMA delegate from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and he actually admitted in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that the resolution was a response to animal rights groups’ objections to the use of gestation stalls.[..]

    so when ‘medical professionals’ who work for the farming industries, backed by dollar power…they have very little credibility left. for every ‘medical professional’ from the avma who wants to endorse gestation crates, there are a few who think that it is cruel.

    when avma remains silent about foie gras production, i can assure you that there are medical professionals who havent yet been contacted by the ‘industry’ who feel that foie gras must be banned.

    so, argument stands the reality test. the misuse of science by scientists isnt anything new. it has happened for decades now and will continue to happen. but science isnt going to strip the human qualities i possess with a few paid-for soundbytes.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I was quoting what is universally accepted anatomy fact – not any particular professions personal physicians. Nobody in any medical profession would argue that a duck brain can do something that there is no physical mechanism for.

    I lost count as to how many separate issues you listed in your post, but I will say that again – those are all entirely separate issues that need to be dealt with individually. There is a definite danger in attempting to oversimply something – including what constitutes animal cruelty.

    You seem to be making the argument that people who eat foie qualify as guilty of any and all manifestations of other people’s cruelty – which again, is irrational.

    That makes about as much sense as me saying, “Your screen name contains a reference to Faust so you are secretly trying to say that you are in league with the Devil, hence the reference.”

  • faustianbargain

    jennie/tikka: maybe i am confusing you with someone else(could be entirely possible..maybe it was me)…but if you have ever had horses and have trained them(not for the track), you’d know that there are different schools for training and each one of them will criticise the other as ‘abusive’. sometimes, following a self proclaimed expert isnt always the way to be…we have to foster our personal relationships with other creatures..if you want to eat what i want to cuddle, we should both have that freedom. and the decency to let the other do what they want..beckoning ‘science’ into how we feel towards other living beings isnt prudent.

  • faustianbargain

    yes..there are many issues.

    regardless of anatomy, foie gras is a sensitive issue. i am sure animals feel no pain when stunned before slaughter. but watching a footage of a stunned cow being dragged upside down isnt going to stop giving pause to many people who might eventually give up eating meat. once again, it is the perception of pain that leads us to the decisions we make. because obviously, neither you or i can feel what a duck feels. you perceive that the duck enjoys it. i dont share your perception. hence the difference in opinions. that doesnt make me wrong just as it doesnt make you right.

    re my handle..maybe i just like goethe? or not..its for me to know and for you to guess, i suppose.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I was beckoning fact into the discussion.

    I have chosen to live by the discipline of fact. The heart isn’t always right and needs facts to govern it sometimes.

    Example: One part of a couple decides that their partner is cheating. There is no evidence that such a thing is happening…its just a feeling one has. Because of this feeling the “injured” partner beats up the other partner and kills the suspected seducer. In reality, nobody was guilty of cheating – it was all in the head & emotions of someone who didn’t check into the facts.

    My highest value is to not make a mistake in determining reality. I do not make it up as I go along and put myself voluntarily through a lot of rigorous tests to make sure I’m not wrong when I feel right.

    While I have never personally raised horses, I do have 2 dogs (who require training), a cat who bit off his own tail as part of some sort of P.T.S.D. manifestation for some event I didn’t get to see prior to bringing him home (that required putting him on a human drug: Prozac, for a time), and have been raised by people who lived on a farm the majority of their lives and had to kill the livestock they raised, or not eat. In other words – I have great relationships with animals….my dogs and cat just spent a solid week staying in a pet hotel that was nicer than the one my husband and I stayed in. My animals have their own medical plan, in fact. I cook for them. For a time they had use of their own bedroom in my house – which included their own king size bed.

    My nextdoor neighbor growing up had 16 guinea pigs, 2 goats, 3 cats, 1 dog, 3 lizards, 21 desert tortoises, and 14 ducks. I spent every weekend of my life as a kid cleaning out the duck pond. I had a dozen tiny little newborn ducks follow me around the yard like I was mom, but dammit – I’m still gonna buy duck at the grocery store and have it for dinner. Without guilt.

    I care about animals.

    But I care about reality, too.

  • Claudia


    Yes, I say so. I’ve pretty much stayed out of this fight, so when I say my e- to another blogger has nothing to do with this issue, it doesn’t. I use my real name and my real e-, as most people on this board who know me can verify, and give out both when I want to ask another person about an off-topic issue – as most people who have talked me to me can also verify. So, yes, Faust – you can dial down from insinuating by your qualified “if I say so” that I am involved in some vast, foie-base e-mail jihad with Skawt.

    BTW, am I the only one who thinks this topic is being beaten to death? Can’t we discuss Heath Putnam’s woolly pigs or something, even if they aren’t unapologetically French or Francocentric?

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Perception is not fact. Plain and simple.

    It is dangerous to make decisions based soley on perceptions. To do so would be a Marketing experts wet dream. We’d be completely vulnerable to whoever had the most impressive ad campagn….and that would be to become a hostage to whoever could produce the strongest emotional reaction (which is exactly what the anti-foie movement is going for).

    In short – you are being completely emotionally controlled.

    You’ve fallen for it. Hook, line, & sinker.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Personally, I’d like to discuss Simon’s win and Rubino’s loss on Iron Chef this week. I thought Rubino was the better of the two. Anybody else? Comments???

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Humans, at one point in history – perceived the world as flat. Did that make it right? They were deeply angered at the suggestion that the world might indeed be round.

    The lady who invented the “Bain Marie” (which is in daily routine usage in kitchens) was excommunicated and executed for her perceived rebellion from God by her new fangled cooking technique.

    Perception can be deeply, deeply flawed.

  • Claudia

    I thought Rubino had it, Jen – those Asian flavors looked intriguing – but props to Symon. Thank God no one made rabbit ice cream – although it looked like they came close, with the mousse. Had the hubby twitching a bit. The rabbit “cigars” looked stellar.

    Symon’s 2 for 2, if I’m not mistaken.

  • Wilmita

    To Faustian Bargain:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    I respect your views with regard to a very expensive, NOT widely eaten commodity that is Foie Gras.

    While I sympathize and respect your position, I must say as a person of color, I would NOT stand for ANY animal to be elevated above the status I seek to attain and be treated as an equal citizen of the United States of America.

    Even though I love, adore and live with animals, (I have pets AND a mammal, er HUSBAND), I resent people putting ANY animals’ right to Life, Liberty, etc above my own.

    I know how difficult it might be for me, and/or other people of color to move to your neighborhood and live side-by-side. I have experienced this many times before.

    PLEASE don’t tell me that I don’t know what sort of community in which you live. If I am wrong, prove it and I shall stand corrected and apologize publicly.

    However, should you not be comfortable with this, then never, NEVER, speak about animal products without proving once and for all you consider people of color above said animals ( of which you have NEVER spoken), on this forum again!

    Should you fail to do so, I shall expose you with everything I can to prove with regard to the fact that you would advocate for ANY animal over ANY person of color as an equal to any American citizen.

    Insulting Michael Ruhlman, Scott Pardus, Bob del Grasso, Skawt, or any other person who posts here is not acceptable.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

    Red Beans and Ricely Yours,


  • SorchaR

    Claudia – no. No we can’t talk about anything else. Not as long as FB keeps coming around. I’m guessing we could be talking about chocolate and she’d manage to turn it to foie.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Disclaimer and apologia

    I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians or anyone who chooses not to consume something because they think it’s wrong to do so: as long as they do not attempt to force their diet on other people. And I dare anyone to disclose an instance where I have disparaged anyone who has unaggressively advocated a diet that is free of animal products.

    I think if one looks carefully at my record on this he will see that I have only made fun of, ridiculed, lampooned and satirized those who have picketed and vandalized businesses that serve meat (esp. foie gras) or who have tried to put legislation in to place that bans the production, sale or consumption of meat (esp foie gras).

    I strongly object to people who try to stop other people from producing or consuming things that have not been proven to be harmful to the public or those who produce or consume whatever those things happen to be. That’s my stopping point btw.

    I do not want to see animals abused en route to or in the abattoir, but unless their production can be proven to harm the public or the people who raise them or the people who consume them then it’s just too bad and too sad for the animals. I hope I do not sound glib here. I work on farm around hundreds of animals, some of them get sick and have to be put down. Some get taken by predators and others go to the abattoir, die by a captive bolt, then I turn them into sausage, salami and other hand made food. It’s all very sad and very lovely and a big part of what life is all about for me and many like me.

    If you are a vegetarian and believe that you can live a better life than I and escape all this, more power to you. Seriously, I respect your choice. But don’t think for a moment that I and millions like me are going to sit back and shut up while you try to legislate what we do out of existence. Ain’t happening.

    I’ve written this because I want you all to know that I am aware of the attempts by someone here who posts under a pseudonym to associate my name with opinions that are not mine.

  • cathelou

    Amen, Claudia. This discussion is reminding me of a foie gras liver: bloated, overfed, and sickening if you get too much of it.

  • cathelou

    My apologies for my last post. I meant to stay out of that.

    But I did want to discuss an intriguing point Bob del Grosso raised a couple of days ago:

    “Point is that it is not good enough to only focus on the quality of ingredients or the steps that one follows while constructing a recipe. It’s also important to focus on the totality of the cooking (And eating!) environment and to be aware of things like internal and surface temperatures of foods prior to, during and following cooking.

    I may be stating the obvious here, and I certainly mean no condescension, but when you take cooking seriously, it gets very very interesting and very very challenging.”

    Bob, your post really hit home. I’ve been cooking since I could reach the stove, but lately, reading this blog and working on my own, I realize I have a lot to learn. I confess that until recently I wouldn’t have known my mis-en-place if I’d spilled my glass of red wine all over it. Still, without knowing the term, I’ve always paid attention to it. (I can hear my mother saying, “Don’t just throw the spoon in the drawer–it goes *here*!”)

    My resolution for 2008 is to remedy my own ignorance: learn those French terms and start measuring things on occasion, and maybe even pay attention to where I put my roast when it comes out of the oven. (Looks like Michael R. just made another book sale.)

    Still — well, I feel I have to say something in defense of the home(ly) but not necessarily “serious” cook.

    The women I grew up with could have bought canned tomatoes and green beans and peaches, but they grew it all and spent most of August, in the South, with no air conditioning, because “store-bought” just wasn’t good enough. (Well, one grandmother did eventually develop a strange fascination with processed food–it was a great novelty for her– but she still dried her own apples and ground her own cornmeal.)

    But they were not terribly precise in their cooking–so much depended on the temperature and humidity and the flavor of what came out of the ground. Anyway, as a result, the only way I know how to make a fruit pie is to taste the fruit first, then figure out the amount of sugar and the flavoring. So I’m not comfortable with saying that you have to be exacting and precise to be a “serious” cook, or even that you must know your French terminology–though I’d agree you probably can’t be a chef in a restaurant otherwise.

    Actually, I’d argue that there are two kinds of cooks: (and I’ve stolen the terminology from somewhere else, but I can’t remember where). The first are bakers: those who follow recipes, measure things, pay careful attention to temperature, and can tell you the chemistry behind your bread loaf. The second are cooks: those who improvise, wonder what it’s like to substitute duck for chicken in a recipe, and who quit reading a food article when a term like “ferrous oxide” appears. The best are probably a bit of both. And certainly we can learn from both.

  • Claudia

    Cathelou, you’ve hit the nail on the head – those women cooks you mentioned may have been home cooks, but they were proud home cooks, who put their best effort and attention into their food. Keller and Ruhlman will tell you time and time again – it’s about attention, which, by extension, is about giving a hoot – and it’s about “finesse” – that extra attention that elevates one’s cooking from, say, really damn good to that much better. So, no – those of us who are not professional chefs shouldn’t hang our heads in shame or fall on our Wusthofs, as long as we remember the fundamentals: get your “meez” in order and work clean. Pay attention. Give a hoot. Practice finesse. Sounds like you got that message loud and clear. Props to you!

  • Claudia

    P.S.: I don’t mean to sound dorky, but I meant to add it’s about love, too. In the sense that preparing food to the best of your ability is about caring about the food and the people you serve it to. Might be part of pride, might be part of creativity, but I guess it gets back to caring enough to give it your attention and best effort. (OK, no gagging from the professional chefs among us, please!)

  • Maya

    I promise I will keep this brief.

    As a lifelong vegetarian and also veterinary nurse, and now grad student of biology, I have to beg for moderation here. I and many others have clearly stated that people have an absolute right to eat anything they want. It’s for survival, and any PETA type laws would reek of dictatorship.

    However, it wouldn’t kill any of us to think about choosing animal products where the said animal did not have to be crammed into a cage for years and years. I don’t object to fois gras as long as the animals can roam free.

    Let’s not forget that methane is contributing to global warming, and that indeed is something that will harm all of us if we don’t fix it. Runoff from farms also pollutes our water supply.

    In grad school was the first time I heard the words “water” and “commodity” used together. In other words, before you know it water may be something only the wealthy can afford. That scared me, to say the least. And I’m not just talking about cattle production; rice fields also produce methane emissions.

    How fun will cooking and farming be once all the water vanishes from Earth?

    Spending five minutes to make good food choices won’t kill anyone.

  • Maya

    And in all fairness, since this is a food forum, I have to say that Publisher’s Weekly’s statement makes me think they may have contributed to the “freedom fries” idea. If in their opinion the book was too “French”, why would that be a criticism to begin with?

    Bar none, the most incredible, irresistable food I’ve ever had was French/American cuisine, made with local ingredients. Just because all other nations are jealous of the French it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them credit for their talents.

  • Connor

    Well put, Claudia. There’s something so comforting about serving your family and friends food that is carefully thought out and prepared. And it’s equally lovely to be on the receiving end of that kind of generosity.

  • faustianbargain

    wilmita, i didnt understand the import of the very many words you typed. please elaborate, if you are so inclined.

    to jennie/tikka:

    on being emotional:

    food IS emotional. perception can be wrong, yes..but it works both ways. the flip side of the coin is that your perception might as well be wrong. while ducks may not have gag reflex, there are other issues with raising thousands of ducks in a farm that are not dissimilar to raising poultry in large numbers.

    further, some of the same medical professionals with degrees (although probably different individuals) that you beckon claim that fattened liver is really hepatic lipidosis..which essentially makes foie gras diseased liver or at least, on its way to becoming diseased liver.

    human evolution includes the development of empathy. it is this very essential quality that defines our nature. consider this…why do decent ‘foodies’ and animal lovers alike detest factory farming, crated veal, gestation crates?

    not every supporter of foie gras has visited a foie gras farm or a factory farm. neither has every person who detests the practices of the foie gras industry. i would wager that a couple of handful of people have visited hudson valley or sonoma foie gras, yet there is an overwhelming amount of support for foie gras from those who have never seen the practices. and these people dont have the burden of actually having to visit said farms to support them.

    but those who do not support the production of foie gras are labelled ignorant of the allegedly ‘noble’ rearing of ducks by gavage because they havent visited foie gras farms. they must bear the burden of witnessing something they already consider unpleasant, cruel and unacceptable to justify their opinion to others they disagree with anyways at the risk of being labelled emotional and narcissitic…and other characterisations that were made.

    why the double standard? what does one call the emotion that foie gras supporters display when they unquestioningly and faithfully drink every word uttered by the few dozen handfuls of people who have had the invitiation to visit foie gras farms?

    touching, isnt it..this trust and faith? what do you call the emotion displayed by some who are desperate to find ‘humaneness’ and ‘nobility’ in the food they eat regardless of whether or not they have personally witnessed it. so, at some level, anyone who supports foie gras production practices without visiting foie gras farms are also taking a stance based on emotions. very human emotions indeed…different from the emotional basketcases who try to fight for the rights of ducks and cows and chickens…but still emotions nevertheless.

    the perception about the cruelty of foie gras stems not just from emotional issues, but from deeper questions.

    fact: geese migrate and gorge themselves before a migratory flight.

    fact: waterfowl has no gag reflex.

    but there are other questions:

    a. do sterile, male mulard ducks migrate?
    b. if they do indeed migrate, can they take flight in their natural habitat if their livers are enlarged 6-10 times?
    c. traditional foie gras gavage used to include pureed apples and pounded walnuts in france. going even further back, they were fed figs and acorns. how close to tradition is corn mush with the inclusion of (duck?)fat?
    d. what is ‘small scale’? what are the numbers?

    the traditional principle behind animal husbandry is to allow an animal to live most of its lifespan as naturally as possible in it’s native habitat and to use the remanants of its being for some of the needs humans cannot do without. does the meat industry and specifically the foie gras industry reflect this traditional idea?

    to ask these questions is rational and logical. it is introspective and not narcissistic. it is necessary. upon introspection, there might be some emotion involved and perhaps for some, passion. for a few others, a passion that unfortunately can become recklessly entwined with their crusading cause, the violent results of which we have witnessed in the past. the main reason many people abstain from consuming meat is introspection and not emotion. the emotions…the reason why people act and react.. are a mere side effect of said introspection.

    further expanding, everything about food and eating is emotional, dont you think? every family meal..every instance of comfort food you have ever enjoyed…every recipe someone has painstakingly reproduced from their childhood memories for the next generation…from the last piece of chocolate cake we stuff ourselves with while we are wallowing in misery(or pms for rest of us) to the breaking of bread around a communal table..every celebratory meal..every religious feast…everything about food is emotional and ritualistic. i find it odd that anyone would want to eliminate emotion from what we put in our mouths. it is this very emotion that defines us…it defines the gluttons and the gourmands….the bulimics and the anorexics…the ‘foodie’ and the ‘chef’.

    should we be ashamed of being emotional? for wanting to leave this world a better place than it was when we first came. i feel no shame. i am not stopping any of you from eating what you want. i certainly dont want anything to be banned. i dont want to convert anyone. just dont insult the intelligence of others with ‘facty’justifications for your food choices which are easily disputed and proved wrong. this whole exercise is not to tell you that you have to become like me. it is to drive home the point that the many arguments that attempt to make foie gras ‘humane’, ‘natural’ and its production, ‘traditional’ and ‘small scale’ can be easily struck down because they are simply not true. of course, the most important point i am trying to make here is that the heart and the stomach is connected. we cannot look at our food without emotion or attachment.

    there is an urgent need to eliminate false information that is used as justification for the abuse and illtreatment of domestic animals. like calling modern foie gras production ‘humane’, ‘noble’, ‘traditional’, ‘small scale’, ‘natural’ etc…like trying to tackle the false accusations thrown against those i consider like minded people when it comes to animal welfare like the villification of chef trotter. like trying to understand why the medical professionals who rightly say that waterfowl have no gag reflex are given more credibility than the medical professionals(with the same degree) who say that foie gras is a by product of a diseased liver or an ailing liver. if foie gras can stand on its own merit and without dispute, it is the triumph of free markets. so it goes.

    i promise you…and this, i say without a shred of doubt in my mind…there are a scarce few in our living world who would enjoy their food when it comes with the knowledge that it is the product of pain or suffering or grief. since noone can feel how another living creature really feels, perception does play a very important role. and emotion colours it, not because we discount medical professionals’ opinion(no matter how dubious or divided it may be), but because nutrition becomes a part of our very own being. tainted food taints our very being…in more ways than one. and thats why people are willing to pay double or tripe the price for organic and free range products. and that is why words like ‘humane’ and ‘compassionate’entered the food lexicon.

    so, yes..there are some who wont just eat anything off a plate. i completely support your right to eat anything..from foie gras to whale meat to endangered fish. i dont like it, but who can stop you from eating that except yourself? it is unrealistic and irrational and plain wrong to expect the govt to interfere with my sense of morality and ethics. but *I* …and by that, i speak for myself…do not see products like foie gras or veal or whalemeat or a surfeit of meat/animal flesh/fish, farmed or otherwise as sustainable or ethically robust choices in our future…in my future..i.e. in my lifetime, it will become an unsustainable choice. and this wont be because of governments or legislations or animal rights activists.

    it will disappear because of sheer economics of the matter. our world population is increasing. land is fast becoming a precious commodity. water is going to become the most precious commodity in a few decades. forget about black gold…water will become liquid gold. there is going to be no revolution to bring things back to sustainable levels…the reversal to a simpler, earth friendly agricultural world must happen before things explode. but the damage that would have happened before the wrongs are righted will be the responsibility of those who extoll the virtues of the an orgy of dining. there was a reason foie gras was prized..why it was expensive..why the production of it was truly small scale. now, it is a full blown industry of its own. years from now, we will be evaluating and re-evaluating what could have been done. let it not be said that nobody tried. i did

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Hepatic lipidosis is entirely reversible – cirrhosis is liver death…those are entirely different stages of a fatty liver (check your facts better).

    You simply cannot claim that a non-fact is true. Without fact-checking you can claim that ANYthing is true. Your faith in something does NOT make it actually true.

    Why is it you want this to be true so very badly – despite the medical evidence? What do you get out of?? Who’s approval are you seeking??

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Its steatosis, more accurately. And there is no physical mechanism for the duck/goose to feel itself in such a condition.

    It takes an enormous battery of blood tests to discover it in human beings. Discovering it in a duck – with a brain the size of a walnut – would be even more difficult. For it to know it was in pain you’d have to find that something was going on in the duck’s anterior cingulate gyrus – if it even has one.

  • faustianbargain

    hmm..did i say it was liver death? i said diseased liver.

    that it is reversible is irrelevant. its like saying cancer is reversible or vasectomies are reversible. while it may be reversible, it is still a state of ill health while it is present.

    i cannot understand your point?

    all birds need to preen and groom themselves. they live as tight social groups and need to waddle in the water..hence they are called ‘water’ fowl..get it? over feeding them and kept in stalls(or barns or whatever) leads to many problems..ruptured stomachs, ruptured esophagus, susceptability to pneumonia, spleen damage…extremely compromised health and mental states. if you can tell me which medical professional disputes all of this and has actually witnessed the thousands of foie gras ducks in the last stages before they are killed in a physically healthy condition, please give me the name. i’ll tackle this professional myself and will keep you posted on the ‘facts’.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Here’s the dealio on pain.

    For a human being to know its in pain, certain things have to happen. Certain cells in the skin have to be stimulated. Notice I said “skin.” There are no receptors inside a body to pick up those signals. That sends a signal along the trigeminal nerve to a ascending relay system in the human brain. To actual feel the pain, a descending path has to be activated. That requires the emotional component from the anterior cingulate gyrus (below the cortex). The signals can be blocked from making the return path out of the brain, indicating pain. Analgesics and opiates block that (which is why you take aspirin).

    Now, for a duck to do the same it has to have the very same structures in it’s walnut-size brain. How likely it is needs to be investigated, but the outcome is pretty predictable.

  • ntsc

    Perhaps FB is a sleeper agent for the factory farms and simply trying to lead the mob against something that sounds terrible, in the hope that the mob will stay away from them.

    Fast food forever

  • faustianbargain

    so, now you are saying that ducks feel no pain when overfeed and their livers are gorged. that the symptoms while alive and the autopsy reports after death mean nothing at all? please elaborate.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Its the same thing I’ve been saying all before now. I know what makes it possible for a human being to sense pain. I know that animal brains are far less complex. I know that a similar or identical structure would have to be present for a duck to sense pain. You cannot sense pain if you do not have a mechanism – the same way a paraplegic or quadraplegic does not feel pain in the body areas that have a cut nerve. The same way that people with leprosy no longer have the capability to sense pain.

  • faustianbargain

    let me get this are saying that:

    a. the foie gras ducks feel no pain.
    b. that medical professionals have attested to this ‘fact’.
    c. there is no physical or emotional* toll/stress on an animal after three weeks of force feeding

    *if you want to argue that animals feel no emotion, i’ll tack that up as point ‘d’.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    They’re “under stress” in the wild, too. Believe it or not – they are hunted by other animals and constantly have that to be “stressed” about.

    For a duck to feel emotions it would have to have a brain that made that possible….which requires a whole lot more grey/white matter than just a walnut sized dolop of not very specialized cells.

  • faustianbargain

    but we are not speaking of wild birds. it is my understanding that you are claiming(with medical evidence, i hope) that foie gras ducks feel no pain or stress or experience the ill effects of a diseased physical state when they are being reared in foie gras farms and while being forcefed towards the end of their lives. am i right?

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I am quoting myself. I was a biopsychology major at a private university. I have personally dissected animal brains looking for specific structures. I have not dissected a duck or goose brain because I have had no reason to. I know enough about brain structure and anatomy to make an educated response to the current medical research. I am not the final word – but you are going to have to prove me wrong to get me to believe you.

  • Maya

    There are at least 3 parts of the brain that are involved in pain sensations – the amygdala is one of them. An animal that cannot feel pain cannot survive as pain keeps living beings from seriously injuring themselves – it’s an adaptation. Just because it is convenient to think that these animals aren’t miserable doesn’t mean that it’s a fact.

    You can be assured that any animal that moves about does feel pain. Plants cannot move or get themselves into trouble so they do not need such sensations.

    In addition, birds do not show symptoms of pain or illness, that is also an adaptation. Ask any bird owner or vet, one minute they’re up and about, the next minute they’re dead. It’s worth noting that while I was in college we learned to force feed many healthy animals, and one technician was force-feeding a healthy rat and it died during the procedure. How it died I’m not sure, but in the hands of the wrong person I think that force feeding could be a pretty lousy experience.

    No disrespect intended towards those who don’t agree with me, just a friendly debate here. :)

    It’s also worth saying that the growth of farms means lots of deforestation. Many new medicines are being discovered that may cure cancer or other terrible diseases, but at this rate all the trees and plants will be wiped out before we can discover these wonderful medicines.

    All the more reason to be aware of what you’re buying.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    No disrespect from me either. I definitely believe its going to have to be cold hard science that finally answers this issue – and not emotions.

    I’m really not sure that all animals have amygdala – that might be a stretch. I will, however – look that up because an amygdala would be signifcant.

    But, I will pose this – if the amygdala is merely tapping into the pre-existent instincts against predators, that’s different from pulling from emotional memories, isn’t it?

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I’m going to keep up on this discussion with this caveat:

    I’m officially on stand-by here in L.A. County with both the Red Cross and the Fire Department and may have to go running out the door if we’re getting hammered as bad as San Fran and Napa have been hit with this storm. So if I don’t post right away – be patient.

  • faustianbargain

    i understand…we are expecting that it will be over by tonight or at the most, tomorrow.

    back to the topic of ducks and pain and your perception that they dont feel any….essentially, that one is closed, yes?

    something you said made me think though..

    you said:”They’re “under stress” in the wild, too. Believe it or not – they are hunted by other animals and constantly have that to be “stressed” about.”

    as would chickens and cows and pigs be hunted and be stressed in the wild. so why so much respect for temple gradin? why all the humane standards for cows and lamb and pigs? why are the others working so hard to get rid of battery cages and towards keeping the animals we eat in a less unpleasant place before it gets to the chopping block?

    if we are going to start comparing the state of animals we raise for food to those in the wild, we should probably give up rearing animals for food and start hunting in the woods for meat?

    so why not for foie gras ducks? they are surely not different from our chickens and pigs and cows, no?

  • Maya

    Hi Jennie!

    I have not taken the ornithology class yet (the professor is like a really mean bear LOL! I’m a bit nervous about that one)so let me know what you find when you look it up! From my tech experience I think birds have a different nomenclature, although some scientists use the word amygdala or pallias amygdala in birds.

    Here are some links:

    You’ve asked a really good question, and my answer would be rather lame LOL. Mostly I take the lazy way out and if it seems to me like any kind of food practice has any chance whatsoever of putting an animal through misery I simply choose to skip it.

    Avian neurobiology is a hot field right now, though! Over 60 percent of our biology master’s students are going into ornithology.

    I once heard someone say, “Even if a bat could tell you what it’s like to be a bat, we still wouldn’t understand.” I think that sums it up; other animals expereince life so differently than ourselves, their experience of pain, happiness, etc is probably very different than ours.

    The key is form and function. A lobster did not evolve to vote or to drive a car, they evolved to live in their ocean environment. They are not “more” or “less” intelligent than us, they are adapted to the environment in which they live, and to contribute to the ecosystem and keep our Earth healthy.

    While animals are facinating, I think it would take one heck of a lot of brain scans to understand their experience. I prefer to keep it simple and at least buy animal products where the critters live a rustic farm life if such a thing still exists.

    And if you get an answer about the ” bird brains”, I’d be facinated to hear about it – might give me a head start in class! LOL! 😉

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Faust – I’m checking into Singer as we speak. Will get back to you on that one.

    Back to pain. Pain is the overstimulating of 4 specialized cells that detect heat/cold/pressure/or rupture. The overwhelming amount of those cells in people is in the skin….and I’ll make the assumption in ducks as well. So sure – something breaking the skin (like a predator biting into it) would hurt.

    Stress in a human includes thinking about the stressor. We have frontal lobe areas that give us “executive functions” like thought. Animals have limited or no frontal lobe. Lobotomize a human and you’ll see a human who’s more animal-like. The lower the life form, the less thought – the more instinct. Instinct is a pre-existing piece of information the animal is born with…its genetically passed on. It sees a predator and the part of its brain that stores that aversion kicks in and the bird freaks out. It doesn’t have to think about it. That happens whether or not the duck has had an actual bad experience to rely upon or not…it just happens.

    Pain in internal organs is really really really complicated, in humans. In animals its really questionable how much is going on. Clearly they don’t want to die but that’s due to instinct, not thought. They can’t form the thought, “Hey – I better seek out a vet” when they’re ill, or, “Who will take care of my ducklings with me dead?” They do come pre-wired with, “Don’t die – die BAD. Live GOOD.” And, “If you give me food – you’re my friend.” That could extend to, “If you give me LOTS of food – I REALLY like you.”

    Happy well-fed animals that go to slaughter taste better – Gordon Ramsay can attest to that, since he did that little experiment in his own backyard.

    What we’re saying here is that this IS humane treatment for the ducks, as they would be skinnier and more stressed in the wild – as opposed to having guaranteed shelter, food, and protection from predators in captivity. I’m not sure how you could even improve things for them – they’re already well cared for.

    And Maya – I’ll let you know what I find out. Hopefully I’ll get to spend my weekend at home (in front of my fireplace and computer) and not working a shelter instead!

    How animals are treated prior to slaughter bothers me, too. In some cases I purchase meats that are Halal from an Islamic butcher rather than at my supermarket. At least they’re trying to be humane about it all.

  • faustianbargain

    jennie/tikka said: “What we’re saying here is that this IS humane treatment for the ducks, as they would be skinnier and more stressed in the wild – as opposed to having guaranteed shelter, food, and protection from predators in captivity. I’m not sure how you could even improve things for them – they’re already well cared for.”

    but the problem is that many animals..including cows, pigs, chicken and ducks..ARE bred for the specific purpose of animal husbandry. will they be stressed in the wild? maybe, but they develop adaptations to deal with that stress.

    your point is moot as many of the thousands and thousands of ducks and chickens..(remember foie gras comes from sterile male mulard ducks that are cross bred for this specific purpose)…wouldnt even exist in the first place if there isnt an exaggerated demand for meat and other animal products. i cannot stress this point enough. i feel the urge to repeat it over and over again, but i am sure you got my point.

    in the wild, there is a balance. and there are a lot more casualities involved in a farm that literally breeds thousands and thousands of birds every year. they are all not ‘well taken care of’…legally, perhaps. and if i am not mistaken, the law only asks that a bird must have at least 3 sq.ft of space…at least to spread its wingspan. remember ducks are birds that fly…they need water..they need to waddle..they need to preen and groom themselves…they need light..they need fresh air. regardless of what those who have ‘visited’ these farms tell you, when the numbers creep towards the thousands, it is not an natural environment for these birds.

    there is only so much the environment can bear…and for now, this is the only planet we’ve got.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Well, but the same can be said for dogs as well. Most of the breeds we have today wouldn’t have existed without intentional breeding done by people. Dogs don’t seem to be any worse-the-wear for it.

    Also, take into consideration that with the global population as high as it is – there simply isn’t enough room to allow these animals free roaming. If we did, then after 5 o’clock at night we’d all be out with shotguns looking for dinner….which wouldn’t be good.

  • faustianbargain

    what do you mean dogs ‘dont seem to be any worse the wear for it’? are you having dogs for dinner? have you been to an animal shelter lately? do you hve any idea how many animals are abandoned and discarded? have you witnessed the perversities of puppy mills?

    what exactly is your point? come again?

  • faustianbargain

    jennie/tikka said: “Also, take into consideration that with the global population as high as it is – there simply isn’t enough room to allow these animals free roaming. If we did, then after 5 o’clock at night we’d all be out with shotguns looking for dinner….which wouldn’t be good.”

    good grief, woman! they dont hve to roam around freely if THEY ARE NOT BRED INTENTIONALLY IN LARGE NUMBERS IN THE FIRST PLACE!

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I give up, Faust – seriously. I’ve spelled it out in the neatest and most understandable terms. I’ve boiled avian neurology down into simple terms and you still missed it.

    What exactly is YOUR point? I haven’t found it, except that you’re just seriously unhappy with just about everything.

    I will say this, lastly. There is clearly something wrong with your human mammalian brain. There is a short-circuit that jumps to, “People are bad unless they are just like me”. Do a quick search through history and look for the people who shared that opinion with you…you’ll find history’s biggest criminals.

  • Wilmita

    To Faustian Bargain:

    No, I do NOT care to elaborate for two reasons:

    First, my meaning was QUITE clear and,

    Second, if my meaning was NOT understood by you, I must advise that it is against my principles to get into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

    Carry on!


  • faustianbargain

    oops caps lock was on..

    jennie/tikka said:”I give up, Faust – seriously. I’ve spelled it out in the neatest and most understandable terms. I’ve boiled avian neurology down into simple terms and you still missed it.”

    but you didnt prove that birds dont feel pain. it didnt prove that the conditions in cramped conditions are unnatural as a bird’s habitat.

    i only recall you saying..”I was a biopsychology major at a private university. I have personally dissected animal brains looking for specific structures. I have not dissected a duck or goose brain because I have had no reason to. I know enough about brain structure and anatomy to make an educated response to the current medical research. I am not the final word – but you are going to have to prove me wrong to get me to believe you.”

    that doesnt prove anything. on the other hand, there is evidence that foie gras ducks have been subjected to horrific treatment that has ended up with ruptured internal organs, infections, pneumonia, liver disease and ultimately death before slaughter.

    jennie/tikka:”What exactly is YOUR point? I haven’t found it, except that you’re just seriously unhappy with just about everything.”

    i have said it many many times in this comment thread and i dont mind saying it again.

    1. foie gras production is not compatible with ethical or humane animal husbandry.
    2. there is no proof that breeding of sterile ducks hat have never known to migrate or gorge themselves prior to migratory flights occurs in nature.
    3. modern foie gras production is neither ‘small scale’ or ‘natural’ or ‘artisan’. turns out that it is not traditional either.
    4. the justification for foie gras production can come only from its consumers who desire foie gras for it’s taste and texture. foie gras as we know it does not occur in nature. at all.
    5. there is no proof that ducks dont feel no pain or that they dont suffer physical or emotional distress while they are being bred and raised in foie gras farm factories.

    jennie/tikka said: “I will say this, lastly. There is clearly something wrong with your human mammalian brain. There is a short-circuit that jumps to, “People are bad unless they are just like me”.

    i am not saying “People are bad unless they are just like me”. i have never said that. i have never said that. you are simply putting words into my mouth because you are running out of chances to come up with a logical rebuttal.

    i am critical and skeptical about the alleged ‘humaneness’ of foie gras production. i am judgemental about those who consume it. but i dont think that ‘people are bad’. on the other hand, i believe in people and that there is always hope…that for every ten of those who will swallow the foie gras industry propoganda, there will be at least one who will think twice before ordering foie gras. and that is more person who will think.

    jennie/tikka said: “Do a quick search through history and look for the people who shared that opinion with you…you’ll find history’s biggest criminals.”

    gandhi? da vinci? goodall?

    on the ‘miserable and abandoned’…the “abortion that was spurned, kicked and trampled upon”…the husband said it better

    “If the use of animal food be, in consequence, subversive to the peace of human society, how unwarrantable is the injustice and the barbarity which is exercised toward these miserable victims. They are called into existence by human artifice that they may drag out a short and miserable existence of slavery and disease, that their bodies may be mutilated, their social feelings outraged. It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery;” – P.B.Shelley

  • Jennie/Tikka

    “Logical rebuttal?”

    But my PERCEPTION is that you said these things, ergo – it is true. My PERCEPTION of the matter is that you are a terrible person, ergo it is TRUE. I don’t need facts – I have my emotional perceptions….ergo, I can say anything I want to say; is that not your stance?

    You’re going to have to learn to take it if you’re going to dish it out, Bargain.

    Life won’t be pretty for you.

  • Vincent

    It seems that I check this post now like one of my pantry/garde chicks do their telenovelas…oh the drama that is unfolding.

    Bigger words though.

  • cathelou

    Claudia, I liked what you said about good food preparation being about love. Interestingly, I seem to remember that in even Tony Bourdain (in Kitchen Confidential) writes that his favorite meal is a something home-cooked, no matter how plain, if done with care and attention.

    And I suspect that the really great chefs have that love too.

  • faustianbargain

    to jennie/tikka: perhaps your perception of me is true to you(you in relative and absolute truth), but you still havent given me any reason to consider any of the ‘facts’ re foie gras and its production methods as humane/traditional/small-scale/artisan/natural etc.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    “Is this the region, this the soil, the clime?” said then the lost archangel. “This the seat that we must change for heaven? This mournful gloom? for that celestial light?

    Be it so.

    Since, He, who is now Sovreign, can dispose and bid what shall be right. Furthest from Him is best, whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme above His equals. Farewell, happy fields, where joy forever dwells! Hail, horrors! Hail, Infernal World! And thou, profoundest hell, receive thy new possessor —

    one who brings a mind not changed by place or time.

    The mind is its own place, and in itself can make heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

    Satan, from Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

  • Adele

    Vincent, you’re right; this thread is like a telenovela (or a train wreck — I’m not sure); I check it a couple of times a day and watch the posts grow. It was at 234 this morning and now 272!

    A couple of comments: FB, do you know that a definition of insanity is repeating the same action but expecting different results. Post wherever you want, but why would you think you’d convert anyone on this blog? Maybe it’s time for you to get another hobby. Wilmita, I, too, though an omnivore, love my pets and am pretty much a sap for most animals, but one of my favorite quotes is either from Dylan Thomas or Brendan Behan (both died of the drink; they get jumbled in my mind), “I respect kindness to humans more than I respect kindness to animals.”

    I remember some weeks ago, when Michael was talking about his book tour, he said that he’d always thought that chefs were among the most generous, entertaining people, he knew, and he’d come to feel that about the folks, who came out to see him. That’s how I feel about most of you — I’m even learning avian physiology, and I’ve had many laughs.

    Happy New Year to all, and Jennie/Tikka, I hope you don’t get slammed with that Sierra Nevada storm.


  • faustianbargain

    jennie/tikka: how odd that you should quote milton’s paradise lost after i quoted shelley who penned prometheus unbound…a nobler rebel than milton’s satan. whatever made you pick that one..truly perplexing.

    to adele who quoted someone she couldnt remember..”I respect kindness to humans more than I respect kindness to animals.”

    adele, denying foie gras is cruel and being unkind of human beings? how droll..

  • Ms.Anthrope

    Adele said:
    Post wherever you want, but why would you think you’d convert anyone on this blog?

    Well, actually, she did…up until now, I really didn’t care if I ever had foie gras…not for any ethical reason…it just didn’t appeal to me. After slogging through all of this drama, it seems to me that there must be something pretty damned special about it. I don’t know if the local bowling alley does foie…but if so…I’m on it!

    BTW-Storm update…things are fairly quiet on the coast right now. Expecting more in the night and through tomorrow. All things considered, I think we did OK.

  • ntsc

    Well, personally if I’ve started a meal with foie, I would rather end it with a cheese plate, perhaps a flight of blue.

    However there is something to be said for chocolate. For Thanksgiving I did a four layer chocolate cake with homemade rasberry jam filling and a ganach frosting, which my wife made a rasberry/white chocolate ice cream to accompany. the under 10 set was fascinated.

  • cathelou

    Vincent, you’re right on! It’s like when I turn on the TV intending to watch PBS and something like “Wife Swap” is on, and I CAN’T SEEM TO TURN IT OFF.

    Except, as you said, they don’t usually talk about Shelley and Milton on “Wife Swap.” (Should I add that “Prometheus Unbound” is arguably the most pretentious, blathering, and pompous poem in the English language? Probably not.)

  • cathelou

    NTSC, the cake and the ice cream sound amazing. If I’d been there, I’d have been sitting with the under 10 set in jaw-dropped awe.

  • Maya

    From several of the comments I’ve read here I feel tempted to ask a question: what exactly makes a human life any more valuable than an animal’s life?

    I’ve never heard a logical answer to this. I hear people say, “humans are smarter”, which is not a logical reason. I’ve heard people say, “oh, so if some kid was getting attacked by a dog you would save the dog??” No, of course not.

    But theoretically, why is an animal’s life less “precious” than a human’s? I have no problem with people eating meat, as long as they try to find humanely raised animals. But making animals suffer for some luxury food which could easily be replaced by some more humane trendy food just baffles me.

    Again, no disrespect intended.

    I’m glad the California folks here are okay, looked like a terrible storm!!! 😉

  • Ms.Anthrope

    Maya, I don’t believe there IS a logical answer.
    I am in full agreement that animals raised for slaughter should be treated as humanely as possible, but my idea of humane treatment isn’t necessarily what anyone else’s is. So where DO we draw the line? I certainly don’t know.
    What I do to ease my own conscience is purchase meat from a local market where they get thier meat from 4H and FFA projects. I know they probably had a better life than one raised in a large factory farm operation. Do I know that for fact? No…but at least it’s a start.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Love for animals….or – and here comes the painful truth: hatred for human beings.

    Love for animals and love for human beings aren’t mutually exclusive attitudes…it isn’t one or the other. Yet, “animal lovers” constantly have to ask the rather CHILLING question:”Why is human life valuable, anyways?” So what’s really going on here?

    A defense mechanism.

    A hatred for people has to be disguised because it is socially unacceptable. It is personally unacceptable too and registers as guilt in the emotions. To compensate for the hatred a new love has to emerge – to neutralize the guilt. Enter the extreme animal activist and their crusade.

    “But look how loving I am!” screams the animal activist.

    Does that love include people?

    When you vandalize a restaurant because it serves food you don’t approve of: That’s hatred of people (not love for animals).

    When you destroy a car dealership because the cars don’t meet with your approval: That’s hatred for people (not love for the environment).

    When you attempt to put businesses out of existence: That’s not love for animals – its hatred for people.

    If you cared about people you’d show it in your activities.

    But you can’t show what you don’t have.

  • Tags

    My next post will be the freight-train-of-consciousness that is the anthology of Faustian Bargain’s posts on this thread alone.

  • Tags

    No it won’t… the 44 (many with many pages) posts she has made so far won’t fit into a single post. It’s just as well.

    Thank you for your attention, and remember:

    Please don’t feed the bandwidth-hogging trolls.

  • Maya

    Hi Jennie!

    I’m confused, did someone post those comments here? I’m assuming you were talking about me, but just like with Faustian you twisted my words beyond recognition!

    I never, ever asked “Why is human life valueable”? In fact, I intimated that I would not “save” a dog who was attacking a person.

    Maybe I should have been more clear, Jennie. I apologize. Human life always comes before an animal’s life. If someone wants to kill an animal for food, I believe they have the absolute, undeniable right to. If an animal bites a person, that animal should be destroyed. Immediately.

    If a person comes face to face with a bear, and the bear is not hauling ass in the other direction, and is intimidating, that person has the absolute right to blast the bear in the face with a shotgun.

    When I worked for the MSPCA I personally killed 800 young, healthy, happy, wonderful cats and dogs. Do you know why? Because people were moving to Florida, because their kids refused to care for it, because their new boyfriend did not like cats. I dragged all those animals to the euthanasia room and killed them so people could have their freedom.

    And I’m pretty astonished by your assumption that I was involved with criminal activities. Would you like my address so you can send the cops? Because if I did those things I need to be sent to prison.

    All I said was, philisophically, why is a human life more valueable than a human’s? Why, after killing all those animals, should I not ask people to have more compassion? That’s all!


  • Maya

    I forgot Ms. Anthrope, who actually answered my philisophical question! Sorry!

    I completely agree with you. All most animal rights activists really want is a bit of thoughtfulness. Real activists, that is. PETA does not represent most professional animal caregiver’s real values. Many of us eat meat, wear leather etc.

    Finding the most humanely raised meat in your area is amazing. That’s all you need to do and as far as I’m concerned you have a clear conscience.

    The only other big problem is environmental problems, which means we may have to cut down on meat, but will farms be replaced by Walmart? Hmmmm…. 😉

  • Bob delGrosso


    Foie gras is not a luxury food. Not to me at least.

    It is just “food” and it is one member of the large constellation of ingredients that francophilic chefs like myself use in the pursuit of our craft. We also use all of the other edible parts of the ducks.

    In my experience it is usually others, people who are not avocational Eurocentric chefs, who imbue foie gras with the quality of “luxury.” For the rest of us, it is just another delicious ingredient that we try to honor by not mucking it up with unnecessary seasoning while showcasing it’s unique identity or “isness,” if you will.

    BTW, I don’t think there is any right opinion about this subject, neither do I think that there is a wrong opinion. If someone wants to believe that fioe gras is a luxury food well then, to them it is. And if I want to think about it as something that is “food” and not essentially different from a banana or a glass of milk then, who is anyone to tell me that I cannot?

    Some of the people who post here seem so desperate to be right. It’s as if no one has ever taken them seriously and damnit, they just aren’t going to give up until everyone agrees with them.

    I liked your question about why human life is are generally considered to be more valuable than animal life. I don’t think this is a question that can be answered directly. Rather I think the best response is an analogous question posed as a hypothetical situation.

    You are walking with your child when you come upon a grizzly bear and her cub. You are carrying a 50 caliber rifle. The mother grizzly charges at your child. Do you shoot the mother bear knowing that her cub will die in the wild? Or do you sacrifice your child, run, and let the bears live?

  • Maya

    HEY BOB!

    It’s been a long time! Nothing new here, but I’m (somewhat) enjoying the major challenges of grad school and hoping to earn a decent living once I get out!

    Re: your comments, I agree about not trying to be right, I do so desperately need to work on my humility. If you read my previous comments you’ll see that I already answered your grizzly bear question quite clearly. If one was coming after me, my (theoretical) child, another human or even my cat, they would be a dead doggie. As for the cub, I’m a licensed wildlife rehabber so I would rehab it if I could catch it, otherwise it would be a dead doggie too.

    Sorry, I was not very specific when I said “luxury” food, I just meant that we can usually choose a food that has been humanely raised. If the ducks are free roaming then that’s entirely different than being crammed into a cage for years and years.

    I’ll see you at your blog, my friend! Happy belated holidays!! 😉

  • faustianbargain

    to jennie/tikka: right then…HAVE YOU GIVEN YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK for that brilliant theory, darling? very original!

    i must also add that i have never had any qualms about expressing it in crystal clear terms when i dont like someone from the human species. some of them are pond scum anyways and depending on the circumstances, i probably wont be tripping over myself to save their arses either. shocking, but true. i am sure it is not difficult to swallow this.

    but hey!! thats an awesome speech anyways. you NAILED “something” indeed. you must print it out and frame it or something.

    to bob degrosso: a duck is not a grizzly bear and while they can get a tad nasty, i doubt if they can cause loss of life or limb. what a bizarre parallel you guys have drawn.

    to maya: a three year old cocker spaniel that has been rehomed thrice now is now under the care of a canine behaviour specialist because he has a worrisome biting habit. possibly rage syndrome. all because some arsehold breeder thought it was ok to keep breeding them and kept reproducing the aggressive gene of a show line dog. the dog will probably have to be euthanised if the specialist cant figure out why he is the way he is …because of someone else somewhere at sometime also thought that ‘dogs dont seem to be any worse the wear for it’ and kept breeding them indiscriminately for profit.

    so..yea…i’d probably make the hard decision to destroy the dog because he is too dangerous to be around people..and i can live with that…but i think the person who caused it to happen ought to burn in hell..possessing human DNA doesnt mean that they ought to get a free pass. stupidity and malice seems to be hardwired stubbornly into some humans’ DNA anyways.

  • Claudia

    Whether you are pro-foie or anti-, I think this argument has gone way over the line and for far too long.

    Neither foie faction is going to change the others’ mind, so why not give the topic a rest? It’s been beaten, whipped, and pureéd into a smooth paté already, and the tone of the discussion has been both belligerent and personal from the get-go. This board is becoming a one-note topic. Let’s move on, shall we?

    As intelligent, erudite, articulate and learned as some folks might be, this blog has degenerated into a screed-laden soapbox from which individuals are launching rabid diatribes on their personal, political or social agendas. It is getting tiresome – and worse – it is getting self-indulgent and nacissistic.

    Ruhlman’s blog is one of the best – if not THE best – food blog on the Web. People not only read it, but cross-reference and cross-link it every freaking day. Let’s try and keep that in mind before anyone decides to indulge in yet another 20 column inches of what can only be termed “look at me – aren’t I clever” vitriol. Enough, already. I can’t speak for the entire community, but I can’t be the only one exhausted by this telenova (thank you, Vincent.) There are others on this blog, you know – it’s not about one person, one issue, and a need to “Don Quixote” one’s position into the ground.

    OK< that’s long enough for me, too.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I’d answer you, FB – but I’m too busy dealing with the sheltering situation in Nevada – people AND animals.

    And that, my dear – is the difference between you and me. I dislike you intensely but if you needed an emergency shelter (completely with food, medical care, psychological care and financial assistance), I’d provide you with one, no questions asked (even though you clearly don’t deserve it).

  • Tags

    I think Claudia’s right. No need to get personal.

    And keep the bulk-rate bombshells to a minimum.

  • faustianbargain

    fine, claudia.

    i will get back to a few issues…the same set that i have been asking right from the beginning before all the nonsense.

    but first:

    1. the breed of duck that is used to produce foie gras doesnt exist in nature. a mulard has never flown to migrate..a mulard never gorged itself to enlarge the store of fat in its liver by itself in anticipation of a harsh winter. and a mulard certainly didnt evolve on corn mush.

    2. traditional foie gras was made from geese. they were fed pureed apples and pounded walnuts..not corn mush with ‘duck fat’.

    3. if foie gras is a by product of migratory water fowl, can the current residents of foie gras farms migrate or even fly?

    4. thousands of foie gras ducks are brought into existence and killed every year in the farms…and ‘small scale’ foie gras production in france used to be no more than half a dozen or at the most a dozen per farm. how is this foie gras industry ‘small scale’?

    5. ducks are killed before they reach adulthood. they dont get to preen or waddle. they do not lead a ‘natural’ life as their natures made them. how is foie gras production natural when even the feeding of the ducks is done with tubes…rubber or metal is irrelevant..the point is that it involves gavage.

    6.some have argued that ducks dont feel ‘pain’. i think they may be confusing gavage with actual pain that birds, as do most living things, feel.

    7. it seems to me that foie gras production is a large scale industrial farm venture. it is a process that is unnatural and involves real meddling. it veers away a lot from ‘traditional’ foie gras production.

    keeping in mind that i do not want everyone to become vegan..that i dont want foie gras banned..that i dont think businesses should be shut down or restaurants be vandalised…please consider why the lobbyists and PR firms hired by the foie gras industry is lying to the general public that foie gras is ‘traditional’, ‘small scale’, ‘natural’ and ‘humane’.

    it doesnt seem much different from industrial battery chicken/egg production. there is nothing illegal about consuming a product that is not unlike battery is still acceptable in this country and elsewhere. so let it be…i am only asking that we not pretend that foie gras production is something which it is not..i am sure there are millions who can live with the fact that animals experience suffering and distress before coming to their plate as food. it is not my burden to bear, but it shouldnt have to be the lie that i have to swallow either.

    animal welfare folks, vegans, vegetarians, omnivores in search of humanely raised animal products…we are not like foie gras ducks. we cant be forced to swallow the propoganda. just because some dont want to ask the right questions doesnt mean that the rest of us wont.

    i am not looking to change minds or ‘convert’ anyone. i dont trust it will happen…not here anyways. but privately…inside your mind, ask yourself these important questions before repeating the propoganda you repeat. there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice when it comes to what we eat. what we eat is what we want. but what is it that we *really* want after we cut through the bullshit, propoganda and the veil of lies.

  • Claudia

    Faust – enough already! Stop with the “Fine, Claudia” and then proceeding to reiterate everything you’ve repeatedly stated since you started on this issue! Enough – EVERYBODY!

  • CarolinaGirl

    I have had enough! Please! This discussion has been beat to death.FB, you are like the houseguest who doesn’t leave when the party is over. I think you really need to get your own blog under your own name and spread your gospel elsewhere. Blogs are free if you look, and that way, you and those who are like minded can spend all day discussing whatever it is you believe. Perhaps, that way the true owner of this blog, Mr Ruhlman can get back to his mission and thinking folks with something genuine to say can do so without your rediculous commandeering of this blog.You are obviously steadfast in your beliefs, I respect that. I just think you are becoming boorish and your arguements are personal atacks. The topic was not how to change people’s thinking with threats and incoherent ramblings and slanderous attacks on TRUE profesionals.It was “unapologetic Francophelia” I ask you in the sake of decency to get your own forum. You will be happier and so will everyone else!

  • Wilmita


    I believe we’ve ALL had enough of the “Vegan-Jellicle”, ad nauseum discussion.


  • Claudia

    Faust, it is no longer relevant since it the topic has been flogged to death, and all your arguments stated, restated, reiterated and re-reiterated ad nauseum, ad infinitum to the point that while I used to at least respect some of your arguments, you are now basically holding the entirte blog hostage with your repeated, 20 column-inch diatribes. It is also no longer relevant since, quite clearly, there is nothing to be gained by indulging in this repeated foie slugfest – the pro-foie faction isn’t going to change your (or anyone else’s) mind, and you aren’t going to change theirs.

    That’s what I trying to tell you. It’s not about agreeing or diagreeing with your position – it’s about the fact that this issue has gone o n for over 2 weeks, it is not a civil, intelligent, thought-provoking discussion (with differences of opinion), and there is now nothing but collateral damage (i.e., a whole bunch of other bystanding bloggers). It’s like being trapped in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with horrified guests at cocktail party being cornered by a clutch of pugnacious, vitroilic drunks.

    And the French have a lot more going on that just foie, which would make a welcome change in food item, while still being “Francophilically” on-topic, board-wise.